A whole month since the last race, and a fine sunny day, with temperatures at last reaching a more seasonal level, and a steady westerly of F3 – 4 forecast, better sailing weather than so far this season. Race officer Tommy Mills set the longest course available, out to Wallet no 3, but with some concerns that a sea breeze could make things difficult. All the regular boats were present at the very late start time of 1230, with the exception of ‘Quixotic’, whose crew are enjoyong themselves at Cork Week. Who will now show the way round?
Wind quite light at the start, and the main bunch formed up along the Marconi side, with ‘Absolution’ and ‘Monkey Business’ in the lead. After Thirslet most headed ‘straight’ for West Mersea no. 3, off Tollesbury, but ‘Aloha’ hung on in the main tide, dropping across at the last minute to reach the Buoy in first place. A gybe, and away to Sales Point, and WM2, then a tight fetch to WM1 and spinnakers up again for a long haul to the Knoll. The wind had increased a bit, and pulled to the south – the sea breeze?, so that from the Knoll to the Wallet Spitway the early boats with spinnakers were set down and had to tack back, while later boats fetched all the way, keeping well uptide, even though the ebb was nearly spent. Very sunny and warm by now, and a spinnaker roll up to Wallet no. 3, starting tight, but the wind pulling progressively to the south east to finish in a run.Turning back to the North Eagle, the order was ‘Absolution’ , ‘Aloha’, ‘Crazy Suzy’ , ‘Behave’, ‘Easi Rider’, ‘McGregor III’, ‘Blue Moon’, and ‘Caroline’. The leading boats were able to lay North Eagle comfortably to begin with, while some boats, including ‘Crazy Suzy’ , ‘Absolution’, and ‘McGregor III’ went very high (error or uncanny foresight?), and gained handsomely when the wind started heading back to its original westerly, upsetting the processional order. Later boats were faced with a one sided beat, with long port tacks, which continued past the Colne Bar, then back up river with long starboard tacks to WM3, the wind increasing to a steady Force 4 and maybe a bit more at times, giving an exhilarating beat to the line, with many boats still within sight of each other, suggesting a tight result.
No shifty winds – just a slow oscillation as the sea breeze tried and failed, flat water all the way round, it looked like another day for the slower boats, but the final result is a real mix up, with some big gains and losses evident, depending on position during the swings. Congratulations to the winners, Steve Purdue and his trainee crew in ‘McGregor III’- they’re obviously catching on pretty fast! ‘Poohstick’ looked good all the way round, with four crew making a difference, to come second, and tail enders ‘Moondance’ and ‘Sophie’ continued their high place run with third and fourth, followed by one of the faster set, ‘Monkey Business.
In IRC the winner, in a fleet of seven, was again ‘Absolution’, followed by ‘Blue Moon’, with ‘Monkey Business’ third.
First ‘McGregor III’ – Steve Purdue – Marconi SC
Second – ‘Poohstick’ – Barry Ely – Blackwater SC
Third – ‘Moondance’ – Rod Martin – Harlow Blackwater SC
First – ‘Absolution’ – Eric Reynolds – Maylandsea Bay YC
Second – ‘Blue Moon’ – Richard Robarts – Marconi SC
Third – ‘Monkey Business’ – Dave Onyons – Marconi SC
The series so far
Five races completed, with the light and shifty weather playing a big part. In the BJRC series, on the basis of 4 races and one discard, ‘Sophie’ and ‘Moondance’, on 6 and 8 points respectively, are followed by ‘August Sky’ on 12. However, ‘Absolution’, ‘Aloha’, ‘Blue Moon’, ‘Dan Dare’, ‘Soprano’, and ‘Triton’ each has a podium to show what they can do, and there are still four races to drop some of those discards. ‘Easi Rider’ and ‘Behave’ are sailing consistently, cunningly staying out of the penalty area, and a few stronger wind days could see substantial rearrangement of the order later on, as the early winners struggle with heavy penalties.
In IRC , on 4 races ‘Absolution’ has 5 points, ‘Blue Moon’ 7, and ‘Triton’ 10. ‘Absolution’ looks pretty unbeatable – but not totally so!